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Enda O'Coineen Dismasted, First Irish Vendee Globe Challenge is Over (Update at 1600hrs)

1st January 2017
Enda O'Coineen has been dismasted 180 miles South East of New Zealand Enda O'Coineen has been dismasted 180 miles South East of New Zealand

Enda O'Coineen has been dismasted on New Year's Day off New Zealand bringing to an end Ireland's first ever Vendee Globe Challenge at the half way stage of the solo round the world race.

O'Coineen reported to Race Headquarters in Paris at 0830hrs UTC that the mast of Kilcullen Voyager - Team Ireland has broken.

Over the past 55 days Enda has sailed 13,153 nautical miles (over 24,000 kilometres) alone, through some of the worst weather imaginable. He has overcome rigging issues, electrical issues, the mental challenge, but losing the mast is something impossible to repair.

His position is now some 180 nautical miles to the south east of Dunedin, New Zealand. He was racing in 35kts of SSE wind when the rig broke. The skipper is uninjured and reported that he was starting to secure his boat and the broken pieces of the rig and planned to head to New Zealand which, in the current weather situation, is downwind for him. He should have enough fuel on board for the journey.

Enda is in contact with the Technical Team and Race Direction. A full assessment of his situation is being made and more details will follow.

Update at 1600hrs

In a few unfortunate moments the Vendée Globe solo round the world race came to a premature end for Irish skipper Enda O'Coineen. A sudden, unexpectedly strong gust at 35kts of wind overpowered his autopilot, resulting in two crash gybes leaving no time to get a running backstay on to support the mast.

In seconds the mast of Kilcullen Voyager-Team Ireland is broken, falling over the side of the boat.

Lying in 15th place in the famous round the world race, which represented the pinnacle of his lifetime of sailing and adventuring, O'Coineen had only just completed a series of necessary repairs 24 hours earlier, whilst sheltered in the lee of Stewart Island, at the very southernmost tip of New Zealand. Ironically only two hours previous to his mast crashing down, he had made a New Year's video, promising to recalibrate his natural affinity for risk.

Having just effected his repairs – principally to his autopilot and computers - and actually having profited from his experiences and his solid speeds in the Indian Ocean, O'Coineen today spoke of his deception and disappointment, which are felt all the deeper and harder because he considered himself to be in good shape to take on the second half of his round the world race:

“I am devastated. Things were going quite well. O'Coineen said, “I was in good shape. Having got this far I felt we could handle anything. There was just that little malfunction of the self-steering that set a whole train in motion. I have to accept responsibility. What happens, happens.”

In terms of his Vendée Globe, setting out on the 5,000 miles to Cape Horn, O'Coineen, 60, is fortunate to have been a little less than 200 miles SE of Dunedin when his mast came down. He cut is rig free but reported that he did not save the boom, or any part of the mast, and so has very limited jury rig options. He was heading slowly downwind towards New Zealand this Sunday afternoon.
“You roll the dice.” He told Race HQ in Paris after prefacing his description of the incident by wishing all a Happy New Year. “I was caught a little bit unawares. I was in 20-25kts of breeze and a very vicious 35kts squall came through and the self-steering malfunctioned just at the wrong moment. I did an involuntary gybe and then a gybe back. The boat was out of control and I was caught without the runner properly on and the mast snapped. I have to laugh because if I don't I will cry. The mast came clean off at the deck and in fact it was intact. But the whole rig went over the side. I had the difficult decision to make whether to try and save the rig or whether to save the hull of the boat.”
O'Coineen's humour, philosophy and his larger than life character, his predilection for wearing his big and passionate heart on his sleeve will be missed over the remaining weeks of this Vendée Globe.
“Look, you have to be philosophical. This sort of sailing is living on the edge. I have been doing this for 57 days and as the fella says if you are living on the edge you are taking up too much space. I was taking up too much space on the edge.”

“Ironically I had just done a little interview with myself for New Year. I celebrated with a small bottle of champagne. My alter personality asked me what my New Year's Resolution is. And my New Year's Resolution was to take less risk with my life. In business, in my life, I have taken a lot of risk. The risk enabled me to make enough money to buy this boat, to pursue the dream and to pursue my adventure. Bizarrely, only two hours earlier, I had recorded a video pledging to take less risk. And here I am. Risk is a four letter word, like a lot of meaningful four letter words in the English language.”
Of the 18 boats still actively racing, 29 having started in Les Sables d'Olonne on November 6th, some eight weeks ago, the leadership battle sees Armel Le Cléac'h having gained 43 miles in the 24 hours to 14:00hrs UTC. Second placed Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) will seek to minimise his time upwind on port tack because he has no foil to provide lift and traction.

Transcript from Enda onboard Team Kilcullen: 

"You roll the dice. I was caught a little bit unawares. I was in 20-25 kts of breeze and a very vicious 35kt squall came through and the self-steering malfunctioned just at the wrong moment. I did an involuntary gybe and then a gybe back. The boat was out of control and I was caught without the runner properly on and the mast snapped. I have to laugh because if I don't I will cry. The mast came clean off at the deck and in fact it was intact. But the whole rig went over the side. I had the difficult decision to make of whether to try and save the rig or whether to save the hull of the boat.  I thought of safety first. I cut the rig free from the boat. I was worried that the stump of the rig would hole the boat. The seas were pretty wild. There was a big sea running. I cut the entire rig free. I am mastless, the deck was holed. It is not a happy situation but there it is, you roll the dice. That is the risk you take. 

I am devastated. Things were going quite well. I was in good shape. Having got this far I felt we could handle anything. There was just that little malfunction of the self-steering that set a whole train in motion. I have to accept responsibility. What happens, happens. 

Look, you have to be philosophical. This sort of sailing is living on the edge. I have been doing that for 57 days and as the fella says if you are living on the edge you are taking up too much space. I was taking up too much space on the edge. 

Ironically I had just done a little interview with myself for New Year. I celebrated with a small bottle of champagne. My alter personality asked me about my New Year's Resolution. And my New Year's Resolution was to take less risk with my life. In business, in my life I have taken a lot of risk. The risk enabled me to make enough money to buy this boat. to pursue the dream, to pursue my adventure. The irony is that only two hours earlier I had recorded a video to pledge to take less risk. And here I am. Risk is a four letter word, like a lot of meaningful four letter words in the English language. 

What can you do? I have acted responsibly. 

It is January 1st.  It is a New Day and a New Year and it is time to move on. My Vendée Globe is over. I am appreciative of all the support I have had. "

Leave a comment

4 comments

  • Comment Link Billy Kelly 3rd January 2017 posted by Billy Kelly

    As they say - Risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. You are indeed a 'Mighty' sailor Enda. Congrats on your Vendee run.. Onwards and upwards...

  • Comment Link Andrzej 3rd January 2017 posted by Andrzej

    Enda you are so great! When I'm sitted in front computer, controls 'my' Yacht across the Oceans, you were have feeling, every single parts your bout. You are feel every wind, waves. I was very jealous. But I still have finger cross about your cruise go home. "What happens, happens.” Now I wish You The Best Luck and happy come back to Home. Andrzej Kilcoole (Pole, now live in Ireland) Than, maybe I see you in marina. (sorry with my English)

  • Comment Link dan  kandy 2nd January 2017 posted by dan kandy

    We supporters of Enda's in the U.S.A. are crushed along side Enda. What a fabulous sailor and competitor. You'll never be guilty of backing down from the greatest challenge on the Seven Seas ! We raise a toast to Enda and the Kilcullen Voyager.

  • Comment Link Paddy Lydon 1st January 2017 posted by Paddy Lydon

    Hi Enda, well done, on all your courage,initiative and capacity for hardship. I feel bad for you tonight, I was sure that this time it was in your grasp. All champions need a bit of luck, and it's a pity it was nt with you this time.head up and shoulders back.ireland should be proud of you and people like you. Safe journey to port.

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